Your Voice: A closer look at dinner and family

rectangular brown wooden table and chair set
(Unsplash photo)

Your Voice: A closer look at dinner and family

It may be that the best thing you can do for your kids is to sit the whole family down and have dinner together.

Research is showing that there is a significant number of kids who never actually sit down with their family to enjoy a meal together, and it may be that parents are the ones who are contributing to a society that is more overweight, more anxious and more depressed.

Sure, if Johnny doesn’t make it to football practice, he may not perform as well on the field. If Suzy doesn’t make it to ballet practice, she may not dance like she should. While those realities may be true, we need to realize that Johnny will probably never be a professional athlete, and Suzy probably is not going to dance on Broadway.

As much as we might want our kids to excel in sports, music and other extra-curricular activities, we need to remember that if our kids don’t ever eat with their families, they may not do well on life’s stage.

Julie Jargon and Andrea Peterson have written an article in The Wall Street Journal titled, “Family Dinners Are Key to Children’s Health. So Why Don’t We Eat Together More?” In it, they say that families gathering for dinner can feel like an impossibility.

Written not by pastors or psychologists but by journalists, these authors quote the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention which says that “A youth mental health crisis that was building for a decade before the pandemic has worsened over the past two years. In 2021, 44% of high school students said they felt persistently sad or hopeless in the past year. Mounting scientific research shows that gathering for regular meals and conversation might be a way to build children’s emotional resilience.”

These authors are showing that there are connections between things like increasing rates of depression in adolescents and a lack of families eating meals. The No. 1 reason for all this? Parents’ and kids’ conflicting schedules.

Jessica Berge, a professor in the department of family medicine and community health at the University of Minnesota, has followed the University’s Project EAT (Eating and Activity in Teens) Research and she finds that those who had eaten two to three family meals a week as teens had lower rates of obesity and eating disorders and better mental health outcomes than those who had eaten fewer family meals together.

Screens don’t help.

When a screen is present at a meal, benefits of eating together decrease. There is less conversation. Less eye contact. Whatever is on that screen is not as important as those kids around your table. Even having the TV on in the background has been found to reduce the quality of the experience.

We want our kids to go to the best schools and have the best teachers and make the best grades. We want them to play on the best sports teams. We want them to have the best friends and participate in the best activities. Parents need to remember that the best things are not out there. Rather, they are in our own homes around our own tables.

Worth the effort

In the end, your children will not remember where you took them. They will remember when you sat down with them.

Social scientists and politicians often focus on complex, big-picture solutions that have many moving parts. The most helpful and long-term thing that you might do for your kids is to go home tonight, put everyone’s phone in a drawer, turn off the television, gather the family around a table, sit down and have a meal together.

At first your kids may roll their eyes and think that there are cooler things to do. Keep doing it, and over time it will be one of their favorite times of the day.

EDITOR’S NOTE — This story was written by Todd Brady and originally published by Tennessee’s Baptist and Reflector, news journal of the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board. 

‘Be gentle toward everyone’

“Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone. …

“[W]hen the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by His grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.” —Titus 3:1–2, 4–7

Prayer makes the difference

Dwight L. Moody, the dynamic evangelist in the 1800s, traveled to England for vacation at one point.

While not intending to preach while traveling, he ended up accepting an invitation to fill the pulpit at an area church.

He preached his heart out to a cold congregation that Sunday morning and didn’t want to go back for the evening service. However, he kept his commitment and found an opposite experience.

The presence of the Lord was obvious, and great numbers of people made decisions for Christ.

What happened between morning and evening?

A woman went home after morning worship and told her bed-bound, invalid sister an American named Moody preached that morning. The sister immediately exclaimed, “God heard my prayer!”

She had read about Moody’s impact in the newspaper and had prayed for months that somehow, someway, God would bring Moody to London to preach in her church. She skipped lunch and spent the afternoon in fervent prayer for God to move.

Moody preached there for 10 days, and 400 people made decisions, primarily because one faithful lady who had a burden for the spiritual condition of her church prayed and asked God to unleash His power.

God will show us great and mighty things if we will ask.

By Pastor David L. Chancey
McDonough Road Baptist Church
Fayetteville, Georgia

“… so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.”

1 Corinthians 12:25–27

Reading Acts 4 this morning and the question hit me about verse 4: How did 5,000+ get saved that day? The Holy Spirit reminded me that that answer was right there in verse 2: They taught and preached about Jesus and the resurrection. It is that simple.

As church leaders, if we neglect declaring the glorious gospel of the resurrection, no amount of new strategies and re-envisioning church life will bring about life change and spiritual awakening.

As church members, we must throw off the consumeristic mindset that demands a church calendar be filled with stuff for us, our kids, and our community to do. When we start using the church for entertainment or self-centered actualization, we neglect the lordship of Christ.

May we all, every part of the Body of Christ, take up the task of telling and teaching the message of resurrection in Jesus. It is the compelling message that signals hope in a hopeless world. It is all that we need to lead people out of death and into eternal life.

Philip Nation
via Twitter

I remember a time when I had been called to work in a particular job setting. It was a wonderful place to work; however, the job that had been set before me was very difficult. I had almost convinced myself I needed to find another job. However … God made clear I was to stay in that current position. As I obeyed, God gave me understanding and taught me things I am still using to this day. Sister, stay where God has you and ask Him to help you with your task. [Proverbs 3:5–6].

O’Shea Lowery
Entrusted Hope Ministries

Restlessness and impatience change nothing except our peace and joy. Peace does not dwell in outward things, but in the heart prepared to wait trustfully and quietly on Him who has all things safely in His hands.

Elisabeth Elliott

“I’ve had hiccups. I’ve had some tragic times. … But I have come to terms with it and have found great peace in my faith and in Jesus. It’s not cavalier — Jesus made a difference in my life. That’s not anything I’ll apologize for,” Kelsey Grammer, who stars as Pastor Chuck Smith in the movie “Jesus Revolution,” told USA Today.

“Helping Baptists understand each other — and sharing how god is working through them.”

Jennifer Davis Rash

From the Twitterverse


“A good shepherd will let harm come to himself before he lets it come to his sheep. Therefore, good shepherds are full of unseen wounds.” —Ian Buntain


It’s easy to think ministry happens only on Sundays. But true ministry happens at your work, in your neighborhood and in many places outside the church building walls. God wants to use you this week to make a difference in someone’s life. Will you let Him? #truthfortoday


“Jesus says, ‘Forgive, and you will also be forgiven.’ That is to say, forgiveness is forgiveness. Your forgiveness of another is your own forgiveness … If you wholeheartedly forgive your enemy, you may dare hope for your own forgiveness, for it is one and the same.” —Kierkegaard


God’s “no” to our prayers is just as valuable as His “yes” because our goal in prayer is not to get God to do our will, but for His will to be done in our life. —Brian Davis


“To be human in an aching world is to know our dignity and become people who safeguard the dignity of everything around us.” —Cole Arthur Riley, “This Here Flesh”


Following Jesus means listening to His voice. It means doing things you wouldn’t normally do. I think we try to live inside an imaginary comfort zone steeped in flesh while the Spirit is wanting to lead us into His unlimited realm.


If it is God’s house, let Him use it! —Bob Lowman, Metrolina Baptists, on churches sharing space with a new church plant @ncbaptist


Let’s not be so jaded that we miss what God may be doing among us. Cynicism may be a cottage industry but it is not a spiritual gift.


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